The Stage of Release
". . . from the Red Sea, . . ." Exodus 15:22
It would have been nice for Israel to linger at the seashore, but God says now you must continue on! There is more to learn. Israel would have to say goodbye to their past and to the ones who had hurt them. He will take us all, more than once, through the stage of forgiveness.
For the disciple, forgiveness is a way of life. Forgiveness is not just something we receive from God, it's something we extend and receive from each other. Forgiveness is necessary to the spiritual state of life.
We are like sheep prone to straying. When someone strays, we are to seek out that person and restore the relationship, letting forgiveness free us from bitterness, anger and offense, replacing the negativity with a compassionate heart.
As a church, we are a family and there will be hurts and misunderstandings. When hurt, we are to take the initiative and seek reconciliation, forgiving freely.
The temptation with forgiving others is to place conditions on how we forgive and the way we forgive. We opt for forgiving, but never forgetting; turn the other cheek, but never trust again; clear the air, but still hold charge in our heart. We bury the hatchet, firmly spiking it in the offender’s back. Such conditions restrict the flow of forgiveness as Jesus intended it to be done.
Jesus called for unconditional and unlimited forgiveness, to forgive and never stop forgiving no matter the other party's response. We, who have been forgiven so much, must be willing to forgive each other.
How we forgive is determined by the way we receive forgiveness. When we accept forgiveness from God, we become deeply aware of our weakness and need. Pride dies and we are humbled before Him. This attitude releases us from being trigger-happy judges and always living with a spirit of anger. We awake to the fact that others, like us, are flawed by weakness. As we learn to live from a place of forgiveness, we are freed to respond to others as God does to us, with love.
When you think of forgiving, who comes to mind and what hurt needs to be canceled?